Detailing how up to one million women in the UK are potentially at risk of gambling related harm, GambleAware has launched a new campaign to raise awareness.

The new initiative focuses on promoting three core warning signs to women, whilst also signposting available help. These warning signs are losing track of time; spending more than can be afforded; and keeping gambling secret from friends and family.

According to the responsible gambling charity’s data, the number of women receiving treatment for gambling has doubled over the past five years, rising from 1,134 from 2015/16 to 2,424 in 2020/21.

Zoe Osmund, GambleAware CEO, remarked: “We are launching this new gambling harm prevention campaign at a time when there may be up to a million women at risk of gambling harms.

“Our research shows women may not be aware they are starting to experience harm from gambling or, may be worried about reaching out for support due to stigma or shame. 

“That’s why our campaign highlights the warning signs to look out for, so we can support women who gamble and prevent them from developing gambling harms.”

GambleAware detailed that 39 per cent% of women may refrain from seeking help or treatment for problem gambling due to perceived stigma, embarrassment or simply not wanting people to know about their betting activity.

The charity maintains that only “a fraction of those who are experiencing gambling harms” use the National Gambling Treatments Service (NGTS) or the National Helpline, although a ‘growing number’ are accessing these services. 

In support of its new campaign, GambleAware has initiated a video launch featuring television and radio personality Angellica Bell, who discussed gambling harm faced by women with Liz Karter MBE, a gambling addiction counsellor, and GP Dr Ellie Cannon.

“Gambling behaviours manifest themselves differently in women than men,” Karter commented. “For example, we know the easy availability of online gambling leads many women to games which appear innocent and socially acceptable. 

“The games seem safe and familiar, as they are so similar to the free play digital games we are all now used to playing. In addition, the hopes of financial gains can prove a powerful motivator. 

“While gambling doesn’t always lead to harm, it’s vital women are aware of early warning signs including losing track of time, incurring increasing debt, or a tendency to hide gambling from others or gambling to forget their problems.”

GamblesAware’s new campaign follows a period in which the charity has become increaisngly invested in investigating the impact of harmful gambling on women, having awarded a £250,000 grant to research team exploring the topic in November 2021

“While the economic costs of harmful gambling are stark, the cost to individuals and those around them as a result of their addiction cannot be overstated,” said Gillian Keegan, health minister.

“This campaign is a fantastic way to raise awareness about the harms of gambling which can impact an individual, as well as their friends and family. By highlighting the early warning signs, supporting women and providing advice we can help to stop harmful gambling dead in its tracks.

“More widely, we are working to protect vulnerable people from the damaging impacts gambling can have, including through specialist NHS gambling addiction clinics, as part of our investment of an extra £2.3bn a year by 2023/24 to expand mental health services.”